Help­ing hand for Tioman’s corals

> ‘Nurs­ery ta­bles’ placed to en­cour­age reef growth

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS - BY AMAR SHAH MOHSEN

TIOMAN: De­spite chal­lenges in pre­serv­ing corals, Ber­jaya Group con­tin­ues to play its part in restor­ing them, with some 170 divers tak­ing part in the an­nual Tioman Is­land Clean-Up Day pro­gramme re­cently.

Mooted by Ber­jaya Group founder Tan Sri Vin­cent Tan six years ago, the three-day event this year be­gan on Oct 21.

Ber­jaya Tioman Re­sort gen­eral man­ager Sonny Gan said there were many chal­lenges in ex­e­cut­ing ef­forts to pre­serve the is­land’s marine en­vi­ron­ment.

He said car­ing for the en­vi­ron­ment is a vi­tal part of the legacy in­stilled by Tan.

“The big­gest chal­lenge had al­ways been the hu­man fac­tor, be­cause peo­ple have dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes and ed­u­ca­tion lev­els.

“There is also the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­pect. With the mon­soon sea­sons and big waves, corals can be de­stroyed. This year, we em­ployed an en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cer to over­see these is­sues,” he said.

Gan added that coral con­ser­va­tion is made harder as the process of grow­ing them is very slow and re­quires pa­tience.

This year’s event, themed “To­gether for Planet Earth”, saw the plac­ing of six “coral nurs­ery ta­bles” to en­cour­age the growth of reefs.

The divers, from Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore, also scoured the ocean to re­move the crown of thorns starfish (which de­stroy corals), and planted new corals.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Reef Check, Shark Savers and the Depart­ment of Marine Park were also present.

Gan said stud­ies were be­ing con­ducted on the pos­si­bil­ity of mak­ing the pro­gramme an in­ter­na­tional event to cre­ate aware­ness on the im­por­tance of coral preser­va­tion.

Last year, Ber­jaya em­barked on a RM200,000 “Shel­ter in the Sea” project, which saw the lay­ing 67 con­crete pipes on the seabed be­tween the Ber­jaya Tioman Re­sort Dive Cen­tre and Reng­gis Is­land, off Jo­hor.

Tan, who was present then, donned a wet suit to per­son­ally wit­ness the lay­ing of the pipes, and said he hoped the struc­tures would en­cour­age coral growth, pro­tect marine life and en­hance div­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Divers ‘seed­ing’ a coral nurs­ery dur­ing the three-day ini­tia­tive from Oct 21-23.

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